Many of us want to be fitter and a popular way to start is to take up running.
However if you don’t know where to start it can be quite daunting to get our there.
That’s why we’ve gathered together our top tips on how to get started and how to stay safe.
Running is one of the UK’s top activities, with around 10.5 million people taking part, according to a report by Sports Marketing Surveys. The survey found the average runner goes for a run 72 times a year – that’s around once or twice a week.
These figures suggest running is one of the country’s most popular activities, perhaps because it is cheap and you can do it just about anywhere. Plus, according to the NHS, it burns more calories than any other mainstream exercise. Not only that, but it can reduce your risk of several long-term illnesses, adds the NHS, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and stroke, as well as boost your mood and help you manage your weight.
But if you’ve just decided to take up running, where do you start?
Build Yourself Up
It’s never a good idea to launch into a fitness programme if you haven’t been very active lately or if you have a medical condition. Speak to your GP about it first, then try building up your fitness levels gradually – start with walking, for instance, and slowly increase your pace and the distance you cover (you could alternate between walking and running before progressing to just running).
Warm up and cool down
It’s also important to start each run with a five minute warm-up to get your muscles ready for action and prevent injuries. Try brisk walking or marching on the spot, and do some lunges, arm circles, knee lifts and star jumps. Then once your run is over it’s equally important to cool down properly. This may involve a few minutes walking followed by stretching. Not sure how to stretch after a run?
Plan your route
Try to have a definite idea of where you’ll run when you start out by planning your route beforehand. Make sure your route is safe, especially if you’re going to be running at night.
Sticking to any exercise plan can be difficult, so try to keep yourself motivated in whatever way works for you. You may want to work towards a goal, for instance, by signing up for a charity run. Or follow a plan such as the NHS Couch to 5K plan, which aims to get you running 5k in just nine weeks.
Even the best runners have injuries from time to time. Be prepared for sore muscles, blisters, sprains and strains by stocking your first aid box with over-the-counter products from your local LloydsPharmacy.
Choosing the right shoes
Having a good pair of running shoes that suits your foot type and the way you run is essential when you start running. There are several types available, including cross-trainers, trail-running shoes and road-running shoes, as well as those with extra cushioning and/or stability.
The best way to buy the right shoes is to visit a specialist running equipment shop where staff can assess your foot and running style. Also don’t forget to replace your shoes after every 300 miles or so as their structure can weaken, which means they won’t offer the same support as when they were new.